‘Club Future Nostalgia’ is fun but disorderly adventure from Dua Lipa, The Blessed Madonna

Dua Lipa Club Remix
Warner Records UK/Courtesy

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Grade: 3.0/5.0

Dua Lipa isn’t afraid to take risks. This year, the singer emerged as a leader in the revival of disco-pop with the release of her spirited sophomore studio album, Future Nostalgia. Edging further away from her “New Rules” era, Lipa recently teamed up with DJ The Blessed Madonna for an experimental quarantine project.

A funky remix album of Future Nostalgia, Club Future Nostalgia (DJ Mix) is Lipa’s attempt to “bring the dancefloor” to fans at home during quarantine, as she explained on social media Aug. 28. Promoting its release, Lipa called the album “our little quarantine dream, a once in a lifetime opportunity in the midst of this crazy time in our lives.”

While Lipa’s original album boasts near pop perfection — and with no collaborations, at that —  Club Future Nostalgia pales by comparison. With 15 producers vying for attention, their strikingly distinctive works are anything but coherent. It’s a tornado of abrasive beats and jumbled mixes of electropop, and yet, Lipa’s chaotic collaboration with The Blessed Madonna somehow manages to be feel-good and fun as a whole.

What Lipa offers with Club Future Nostalgia is an experience. Unlike her previously traditional albums, it’s not meant to be just listened to — it’s meant to be danced to. It’s 50 vibrant minutes of a pop diva’s imagination run wild, a nonstop stream of electricity best experienced with its animated visualizer cluttered with dazzling rainbows and colorful celestial aesthetics.

Sampling 1980s and 1990s rock, dance pop and funk, the album features groovy fusions of hard-hitting synths and addicting bass lines. The most successful remixes manage to blend conventional electronic factors with individualized elements. Moodymann’s “Break My Heart” remix, clocking in at six minutes, reinvigorates the overplayed track with gentle echoes contrasted by the original song’s intense violin refrain. Horse Meat Disco’s funky but orchestral remix of “Love Again” triumphs with its integration of ascending, lighthearted notes at the chorus. And though its vivacity is occasionally interrupted by blaring sirens and high-pitched whines, Zach Witness’ remix of the feminist anthem “Boys Will Be Boys” bolsters Lipa’s sass with a lively drumline. 

Some remixes, on the other hand, integrate elements that are more aggravating than innovative. Incessant printer beeps clash with peculiar bubbling noises on the Masters At Work medley of “Pretty Please,” while shrill football whistles on Jayda G’s repetitive remix of “Cool” serve only to temporarily distract from the song’s maddening autotune. The album’s transitions, however, are seamless: The end of each song is already the beginning of the next, with smooth fade transitions featuring distorted fragments of Lipa’s sultry voice.

For an album solely created for a dance floor, many of its songs are surprisingly anticlimactic. The Mr. Fingers remix of “Hallucinate” samples Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” and Barbara Mason’s “Another Man” for far too long, and the monotonous chorus in Yaeji’s “Don’t Start Now” only dampens the song’s original zeal. Strangely, the album’s most highly-anticipated remixes also fall flat: “Levitating” featuring Madonna and Missy Elliott lacks charisma, and “Physical” featuring Gwen Stefani and Mark Ronson is utterly uninspired. Although Elliott provides a briefly refreshing respite to “Levitating,” it’s a shame that ambitious instrumentation buries the vocals of the other stars.

While the pulsing synths tend to overwhelm Lipa’s vocals, others allow her to step into the spotlight again. Her original songs “That Kind of Woman” and “Love Is Religion” both follow a generic pop song structure, but the high-energy, dynamic mixes from Jacques Lu Cont and The Blessed Madonna allow the passionate tracks to reach their full potential.

Club Future Nostalgia is a blithe collection of hits and misses, a series of rough drafts stitched and held together only by infectious energy. Relatively few remixes near the splendor of their original counterparts, but ultimately, Lipa’s collaboration with The Blessed Madonna is a purposeful, creative venture that serves as a welcome reinvention to brighten these dark times.

Contact Taila Lee at [email protected].